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Sunday March 3rd 2024

Police Academy | 1984

Police Academy film location: Humber Lakeshore Campus, Toronto
Police Academy film location: the Academy HQ: Humber Lakeshore Campus, Toronto | Photograph: Wikimedia / Annie

Is this the closest the US got to the UK’s Carry On… series? That too started out with a ragtag group of oddballs being whipped into shape by a stern commanding officer, although in the army (1958’s Carry On Sergeant).

When a drive for police recruits drops a lot of the usual barriers, a ragtag group of oddballs… well, you get the picture.

The city in question is not specified but doesn’t it look an awful lot like Toronto?

The Academy itself was once Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, 3199 Lake Shore Boulevard West in Etobicoke, west of Toronto.

Scenes for the 1977 film of Equus had been filmed here. When the facility closed down, it proved the ideal institutional backdrop for Police Academy, and went on to be used in Urban Legend among other movies.

It’s now been redeveloped to be Humber College Lakeshore Campus, where its Building G once housed the office of Commandant Lassard (George Gaynes).

Just to the south, the academy barracks were the I, J and K Buildings, overlooking what is now the Australian Football Field. There seems to have been a little remodelling since its hospital days.

There’s plenty of Toronto on show in the opening sequence, as the recruits-to-be are inexorably propelled to an unexpected career.

The parking lot where attendant Carey Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg) demonstrates an efficient if unorthodox method of sideways parking has gone. On the site at the southwest corner of Wellington Street West and Simcoe Street, Downtown Toronto, now stands the RBC Building. In the background you can see Roy Thomson Hall (seen in X-Men) and the elaborate 19th century Romanesque St Andrew’s Church.

Police Academy film location: Carlaw Avenue, Riverdale, Toronto
Police Academy film location: Leslie Barbara's 'Fotofast' booth: Carlaw Avenue, Riverdale, Toronto | Photograph: Google Maps

The other lot, from which Leslie Barbara (Donovan Scott) is abducted in his dinky camera-shaped Fotofast Booth remains virtually unchanged. It’s parking for the shopping mall northeast of Carlaw Avenue and Gerrard Street East in Riverdale, east of the Don River.

Police Academy film location: Cherry Street Trunnion Bridge, Port Lands, Toronto
Police Academy film location: Leslie Barbara and his booth are dumped into the river: Cherry Street Trunnion Bridge, Port Lands, Toronto

The hapless Barbara is dumped into the ship channel from the Cherry Street Trunnion Bridge in Port Lands on Lake Ontario. Did you recognise the bridge from A Christmas Story, among other films?

The home of accident-prone nerd Doug Fackler (Bruce Mahler) is 81 Elsfield Road, at Glenroy Avenue, in the delightfully-named Sunnylea neighbourhood of Etobicoke. Sunnylea was the replacement name when ‘Fairview’, the winning suggestion of a competition, was discovered to be already taken.

Once training begins, the two squad bullies, Copeland and Blankes, are mischievously sent looking for an illicit party to what turns out to be a local gay leather bar.

Not gay at all, this was popular music bar, the Silver Dollar Room, 486 Spadina Avenue in the ground floor of the famous old Hotel Waverly. Demolished in 2018, a new Waverley Hotel – now residential accommodation – has been built and, as had been promised, the Silver Dollar Room has been rebuilt exactly as it was, though it doesn't yet seem to be open.

The old Silver Dollar was also seen also in 1987 comedy Adventures in Babysitting and the 2001 Mariah Carey vehicle Glitter.

Police Academy film location: Colborne Street at Victoria Street, Toronto
Police Academy film location: Lt Harris has a close encounter with a horse's rear end: Colborne Street at Victoria Street, Toronto | Photograph: Google Maps

The traffic foul-up handled being by a panicked Laverne Hooks (Marion Ramsey), was filmed in the heart of Toronto, at Colborne and Victoria Streets. It’s here that Lt Harris (GW Bailey) famously bikes along Colborne Street until he has that unfortunate confrontation with the rear end of a horse.

Over in Etobicoke, Mahoney gives Moses Hightower (Bubba Smith) a last-minute crash-course in driving on Lake Shore Boulevard West at Eighth Street. He gets only as far as Seventh Street before the inevitable fender bender.

Police Academy film location: Dundas Street at High Park Avenue, Toronto
Police Academy film location: Fackler unwittingly triggers off the bar fight: Dundas Street at High Park Avenue, Toronto | Photograph: Google Maps

The new recruits get their chance to put their new skills into operation dealing with an urban riot. This is unwittingly triggered by Fackler carelessly tossing an apple out of a squad car at the junction of Dundas Street West and High Park Avenue.

The funky-looking bar is sadly gone, replaced by a bland branch of Domino’s pizzas.

Police Academy film location: Dupont Street at Edwin Avenue, Toronto
Police Academy film location: "Hey, free TVs!" at the second-hand store: Dupont Street at Edwin Avenue, Toronto | Photograph: Google Maps

The pinball machine that comes unloose trundles its way to Edwin Avenue, where it crashes into a second-hand store where the cry “Hey, free TVs!” sets off mayhem. The premises is now a branch of Wallace Espresso, 1642 Dupont Street.

The newbies get off to a rocky start when they’re bussed out to the wrong area. The quiet residential neighbourhood where they’re dropped off is on the other side of the rail tracks from the trouble, at the junction of Hook and Watkinson Avenues, with Lucy McCormick Senior School clearly visible in the background.

Police Academy film location: Baldwin Street at Augusta Avenue, Kensington Market, Toronto
Police Academy film location: Mahoney and Jones on the deserted street: Baldwin Street at Augusta Avenue, Kensington Market, Toronto | Photograph: Google Maps

Sent on their various assignations, Mahoney and Larvell Jones (Michael Winslow) somehow manage to turn up a couple of miles east on the quiet and deserted Augusta Avenue opposite Baldwin Street in Kensington Market. The Market is the area where most of the rest of the sequence plays out.

Lothario George Martin (Andrew Rubin) is predictably coming on to a woman as he lugs a looted TV away on Kensington Avenue, before he’s chased along Baldwin Street toward Mahoney and Jones.

They run into a counter mob at Nassau Street before finding brief sanctuary in the car of Commandant Lassard, on Augusta Avenue at Baldwin Street.

Once again, Jones’s peculiar vocal talent saves the day with his pretty convincing barrage of gunfire.

Police Academy film location: Toy Factory Lofts, Halma Avenue, Liberty Village, Toronto
Police Academy film location: Hightower rescues Harris and Mahoney on the warehouse roof: Toy Factory Lofts, Halma Avenue, Liberty Village, Toronto | Photograph: Google Maps

Finally, we come to the warehouse rooftop where Lt Harris, and subsequently Mahoney, are held captive by the bad guy with the cops’ stolen guns.

Originally a turn of the century toy factory, in 2008 the building was converted into the smartly gentrified Toy Factory Lofts.

The rest of the area has been unrecognisably developed but you’ll still recognize the lofts on Halma Avenue at Liberty Street in Liberty Village, quite a way southwest.

Liberty Village was once part of the Garrison Common – a military fortification for the Town of York (Toronto’s previous incarnation) until the arrival of the railway in the 1850s brought factories and warehouses.

All of course ends well, fortunately for the successful run of sequels which followed.